I've hit the jackpot. I just got an allotment (above): eight metres by eleven minus a concrete rectangle I may or may not be allowed to annexe and the first piece of garden that’s mine and mine alone. The furthest corner plot in a recently established site, it’s bounded by a stone wall on its south and west-facing sides. If anywhere in Glasgow in February could reasonably claim to be a suntrap, it’s here. The ground is essentially clear with a healthy covering of couch grass, intersected by a couple of half-hearted bark paths. I’m told my predecessor grew only potatoes though there look to be a few fruit bush skeletons, illegible plastic labels still attached to their necks, along the wall. A superficial dig about suggests the soil, if verging on clay in places (standard in these parts), is generally rich and friable.
Keen to do things by the book, I’d called into my friendly local hardware shop to see about picking up a soil pH testing kit. This shop is tiny yet has everything so I was surprised when the lady couldn’t find one. Then just as I was striding out, mentally cursing the whole venture as doomed and wondering how the fuck to get to B&Q without a car, she called after me waving a set. Due to a shattered test tube and the fact it looked to have been in situ for a decade or two I was generously given it for free. I’ve read ground used for potatoes needs lime as it can be excessively acid but on adding a bit of soil from the middle of the plot and shaking it up (and admittedly I was 'projecting' here slightly; I don’t think the test solution was firing on all cylinders) it looked to be nicely on the very slightly acid side of neutral. All in all, it feels like a suspiciously auspicious start.
It’s now time to work out what I want to grow. Ever wary as I am of hamming/square sausageing it up by implying we’re all raised on a diet of Buckie and deep-fried Mars bars, I’m sorry to say I’m a West of Scotland stereotype when it comes to my relationship with vegetables; it’s been rocky and at times close to nonexistent. How well I remember landing in London student halls and tipping half a bag of Sainsbury’s rocket onto my microwave lasagne each mealtime in an attempt to pass muster. If I’m honest I've dreamt mainly of making a beautiful garden. I've had powerful visions of New Perennial swathes in a slightly smaller-scale Villandry with a youthful urban twist and thus far I’m mainly excited about crops for their appearance: purple kale, globe artichokes, sweet peas and this unbelievable multi-coloured sweetcorn a colleague showed me on Google images. Maybe I need to start off mainly edible and surreptitiously add more ornamentals as I gain acceptance from my fellow plotholders. But I'm well up for this venture helping to change the way I cook and eat too.